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Wylie and Helene
Cape Town

The Dalai Lama

Cape Town , Western Cape - South Africa

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News Conference

I had the honor of attending a Press Conference for the Dalai Lama. A last minute shuffle landed me on the front row, within 10 feet of His Holiness.

I had never seen the Dalai Lama before and there was a palpable excitement in the room as we waited for his arrival. With nice wooden paneling and heavy curtains the room had a stately air to it. The light was full but muted.

When His Holiness entered the room I felt a presence like that of a kindly, humorous grandfather who also had a stern side. He made everyone feel at ease.

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After he seated himself I made three bows. One to the Buddha, one to the Dharma and one to the Sangha. I felt shy to gaze into his eyes and that it was somewhat impertinent to be taking pictures of him with a camera.

I was still having a hard time believing that I was sitting so close to a person who has dedicated their life to spiritual cultivation and compassion. I noticed that my body was shaking. I was honored and humbled.

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"...and around 8:30, sleep"

The Dalai Lama mixed humor and accessible common sense to present most of his points. Even though he struggled to find the proper English words at times, one could easily discern a very firm and deep presence of mind.

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God-King? Living Buddha? Non-Sense!

Topics covered politics with China, what a usual day for the Dalai Lama consisted of and even an opportunity for His Holiness to disclaim being enlightened or an issue of divine lineage.

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At the close of the conference the Dalai Lama passed by me and shook my hand. He then stopped to visit Brahma Das who has been doing good work for the Tibet Foundation and the Aids Quilt Project. I took the opportunity to move towards the door for another chance to take a photograph as His Holiness left the room. Before I knew it the Dalai Lama was in front of me again with his hand extended. I felt shy to shake his hand twice, it was like I was getting two deserts.

He then grasped my beard and tugged on it several times while chuckling and saying something in Tibetan. I think he was saying, “you’re a silly goat for getting in line twice”. I have since shaved my beard and have saved some of my “chinney-chin-chin” hairs as sacred relics.

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New Year's Day... "just normal, nothing special".

Kirstenbosch Gardens

Later that day, the Dalai Lama gave a talk at Kirstenbosch Gardens entitled “Ethics in the New Millennium”. Dean and Susan, our friends from Café Skokiaan, came with Helene and I. I brought 40 large red and white gladiolas as an expression of my happiness. On the way into the Gardens I found a handy bush, but when I turned around Helene and Company was no where to be found. Chaos ensured and despite the fact that Helene had a huge bouquet of flowers I could no longer find them. The talk was commencing so I took a seat, hoping that Helene and I would meet up later on.

The talk was clear and concise, leavened with easygoing humor. The Dalai Lama stressed that individuals must achieve inner peace before it is possible to make a difference in the world. “Peace ultimately will come from within. I believe the very purpose of our existence should be happiness.”

He said to foster change in the new millennium, people must think about basic human values and realize the connection between all men, whether educated or illiterate, rich or poor, religious or not. “That’s the ultimate answer – we are the same”, he said.

“If we look closely, many of these problems are essentially our own creation – man-made problems… If we expect a new millennium itself to bring some kind of big, positive change on this earth, that’s unrealistic… A sense of caring is the fundamental foundation of our survival and the basis or our inner strength.”

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After the talk was over I could see the direction his entourage was heading. I took a short cut and headed them off at the pass to get another look at this amazing man (silly goat that I am). I reached a courtyard and waited for his arrival. His security people fanned out and past me, leaving the courtyard empty in their wake. I suddenly found myself alone with the Dalai Lama as he entered the courtyard on the opposite side. I kneeled down and while making bows to the triple gem, he came over and grasped my hands. We looked at each other and said “good bye”.

Now I was really feeling blessed. I also lost the personal desire to be close to this man. If my volunteer or professional work brings us together again I will always be pleased and honored. But now I felt like I had well over my fortune in this man’s attention and other’s needed their chance and opportunity.

Later I met up with Helene, who still had the flowers. We dropped them off at the Dalai Lama’s hotel on the way back to our place.

Over the next two days I was able to see the Dalai Lama 3 more times. Once when he addressed the Parliament of World’s Religions. Another time for a 2-hour dharma lesson, and finally when he made the opening speech at the Festival of Sacred Music.

May we all find happiness.

Parliament of World's Religions
Summer Solstice - The Hike
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Chapters of Cape Town
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  Parliament of World's Religions
  The Dalai Lama
  Summer Solstice - The Hike
  Summer Solstice - The Camp Out
  Garden Route-Nature's Valley
  Shanty Towns
  Ostrich Rodeo
  New-Year's Eve
  Les Pinguoins
  Cape of Good Hope
  Bone Yard


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